This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed November 10, 1997
Affirmed in part and reversed in part
Nobles County District Court
File No. KX97116
Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Minnesota Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445
Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101, and
Kenneth J. Kohler, Nobles County Attorney, 912 Third Avenue, P.O. Box 607,
Worthington, MN 56187 (for appellant)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Special Assistant
Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue, S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Khanthaly Sengphet was charged with aiding an offender in violation of Minn.
Stat. § 609.495, subd. 3 (1996). Pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 28.04,
subd. 1(1), the state appeals from the trial court's pretrial order suppressing
Sengphet's statements that she made while being questioned outside of her home
and later at the police station after being given a Miranda
warning. We affirm in part, and reverse in part.
D E C I S I O N
We will reverse a trial court's determination on a pretrial matter in a
criminal prosecution only if the state demonstrates clearly and unequivocally
that (1) the trial court erred in its judgment, and (2) the error will have a
critical impact on the outcome of the trial absent reversal. State v.
Joon Kyu Kim, 398 N.W.2d 544, 547 (Minn. 1987). Because the facts are
not in dispute and the trial court's decision is a question of law, we
independently review whether the evidence should be suppressed. State v.
Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992).
The state argues the trial court clearly erred in concluding Sengphet
was in custody, and therefore illegally detained and questioned at the scene of
the suspect's apprehension. We disagree. The record demonstrates police
officers: (1) secured the outside area around Sengphet's home; (2) telephoned
the occupants of Sengphet's home and requested they exit the residence "with
their hands up"; (3) waited outside Sengphet's home with their guns drawn; (4)
detained and questioned Sengphet; (5) positively identified the suspect and
placed him under arrest; (6) again questioned Sengphet; and (7) failed to issue
a Miranda warning to Sengphet. Given these facts, we
conclude a reasonable person in Sengphet's position would have understood that
she was in custody. See Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 440,
104 S. Ct. 3138, 3150 (1984) (holding safeguards prescribed by
Miranda become applicable as soon as suspect's freedom of action
is curtailed to degree associated with formal arrest); State v.
Champion, 533 N.W.2d 40, 43 (Minn. 1995) (holding
Miranda warning is required when reasonable person under
circumstances would believe he or she was in police custody of degree
associated with formal arrest); see also State v. Rosse,
478 N.W.2d 482, 486 (Minn. 1991) (holding defendant should have been given
Miranda warning because reasonable person would believe
she was in custody and was being restrained to degree associated with formal
arrest). The trial court did not err in suppressing Sengphet's statements made
at the scene of the suspect's arrest.
The state also argues the trial court clearly erred in suppressing
Sengphet's post-Miranda statement under the "fruit of the
poisonous tree" doctrine. We agree. The record demonstrates Sengphet: (1)
was arrested, taken into custody, and transported to the police station; (2)
was asked if she would speak with a police officer; (3) was given a
Miranda warning; and (4) waived her rights and gave a statement
to a police officer. We conclude Sengphet's post-Miranda
statement was obtained by means sufficiently distinguishable from the
prior illegal questioning so as to be purged of the "primary taint." See
State v. Dakota, 300 Minn. 12, 17-19, 217 N.W.2d 748, 752-53 (1974)
(holding although first statement was illegally obtained there was sufficient
support for trial court's admission of defendant's post-warning statements);
State ex rel. Pittman v. Tahash, 284 Minn. 365, 367-69, 170
N.W.2d 445, 446-48 (1969) (holding full oral confession that was inadmissible
because it was obtained without proper warnings did not taint written
confession obtained later in day after proper warnings were given). Under
these circumstances, the trial court erred in suppressing Sengphet's
post-Miranda statements and that error has a critical impact on
the outcome of the state's case. See State v. Ronnebaum, 449
N.W.2d 722, 724 (Minn. 1990) (holding critical impact is shown in cases where
lack of suppressed evidence completely destroys state's case, and in cases
where it significantly reduces likelihood of successful prosecution).
By separate motion, Sengphet requests an award of attorney fees on appeal.
See Minn. R. Crim. P. 28.04, subd. 2(6) (permitting defendant's
recovery of reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in responding to appeal
of pretrial order by prosecuting attorney). After reviewing the supporting
information, we grant Sengphet's motion for $1,050 in attorney fees and
Affirmed in part and reversed in part.
[ ] * Retired judge of the district
court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment
pursuant to Minn. Const. Art. VI, § 10.